What is the best procedure to report domestic violence against a Ukrainian mother of two children by a Polish woman who sheltered them?
Domestic violence covers a range of activities, including physical, sexual, psychological, and economic forms of abuse. It usually affects people who are closest to each other, family members, usually living together. According to some definitions, domestic violence may also include behaviour between cohabiting persons who are not family members.
If the domestic violence indicated in the question can be qualified as a crime, e.g. in the form of a violation of physical integrity, in particular, if the victims are threatened with the loss of health or life, it is obvious that prompt action should be taken, in particular by notifying the police (112 or 997).
There are, however, a number of actions that can hardly be clearly regarded as criminal, but which may nevertheless qualify as domestic violence and require a more subtle response and assistance. It is also understandable that Ukrainian citizens may fear becoming homeless if they report that they have been victimised by people who originally declared to help them.
Information and support for victims of family violence is provided by the Polish National Service for Victims of Family Violence “Blue Line” at 800 120 002. The “Blue Line” consultants will suggest how to help a victim of family violence and will indicate places and forms of assistance in the nearest vicinity. Victims of violence are offered support, psychological assistance as well as information regarding the possibilities of getting help. As a rule, this support concerns people experiencing domestic violence from family members, however, experienced consultants will be able to recommend available forms of assistance or to provide support themselves also to people who are not in any way related to the aggressors.
The “Blue Line” is operated in Polish and sign language, but an emergency service in Russian is also available (as of 11 March 2022, support in Ukrainian is not available) on Tuesdays from 18-22 hours.